For the second time we enter this room for a memorial
service to our people. Even more than a year ago we appreciate how inadequate
are words to express the nation's thankfulness to its heroes. In times
of long peace the memory of the terrible experiences of war, out of
which rises heroism, gradually grows dim. It even happens that a whole
generation knows nothing of war as such and honors its heroes without
being in the least worthy of them.
In such a circumstance the greatest sacrifice of man
is acknowledged with superficial phrases. There is even danger that,
while remembering heroes of times past, the men of the present regard
themselves as free of the obligation to conduct themselves with a similar
spirit of heroism.
But if the German people in the year 1941 honors its
heroes, it does so at a time and under circumstances that give it a
right to hold up its head with pride as it pays tribute to men of the
near and distant past who sacrificed their lives for the State.
As twelve months ago in this consecrated hall we turned
our thoughts to our heroes, there lay behind us the thoroughly successful
beginning of a war that Germany did not want, but that was forced on
us by the same forces that were responsible before in history for the
great war of the peoples in 1914 to 1918.
They were the elements whose goal that time was to
rob the German nation of the most primitive right of life, who in the
years of the Versailles dictate raised as the dogma of the new world
order political enslavement and economic impotence, and now are opposed
to the revival of our people with the same hatred with which they once
pursued the Second Reich.
In complete misjudgment of the situation, in a sadly
false estimate of their own and Germany's power, and in complete ignorance
of the will and determination of the new German leadership, they expected
a second crushing of our people would be as easy as the first attempt.
The fact that the American General Wood, before the
investigation committee of the American Senate, testified that as early
as 1936 Churchill told him Germany was getting too strong again and
must be destroyed in a new war established firmly in history the real
responsibility for present developments.
England and France alone wanted war-not so much the
people as a thin stratum of political and financial leadership behind
which, wielding its last power, stood international Jewry and its world
conspiracies of democracy and Freemasonry.
But it was the hope of these responsible war makers
that thrust Poland forward not only to attain outward justification
for war but also to make sure in advance that Poland would play its
World War role of dividing German strength.
The eighteen-day campaign in Poland was but the precipitous
end of these hopes. Under these circumstances the German people were
able to enter the year 1940 with proud confidence. But our people did
not deceive themselves as to the year lying ahead. The battle in the
west, which remains in the memory of every living German World War soldier
as an episode of suffering without end, had to be decided.
In exact knowledge of our preparations and plans, in
boundless confidence in the German soldier, his armament and leadership
and ability and before all in his attitude, I dared on Memorial Day,
1940, to predict that the battle before us would end in the most glorious
victory in our history. Eight weeks later this battle started.
But before the defense forces struck in the west, what
was probably the most important decision of the war was taken. On April
9, with just a few hours to spare, a dangerous British attempt to strike
German defense powers in the heart from the north was anticipated. At
dawn on May 10 this perhaps most dangerous threat to our military and
political position had been swept aside. So the battle to a decision
in the west could begin. It followed a course previously mapped out.
What could not be done in four years of indescribable
sacrifice in the World War was accomplished in a few weeks: the crushing
of the British-French front.
Despite the conclusion of the guilty British Prime
Minister of that time, the year 1940 will go down in history as one
of the most decisive and significant. Because in this year there was
a shift of power of truly historic importance. If in the year 1918 we
could have had only a portion of this success the World War would have
Today German forces stand throughout the world, men
and material strengthened to an inconceivable degree, ready to complete
joyfully and confidently what was begun in the epochal year 1940.
So we approach with still greater right than in 1940
the German heroes of the past. All of us remember what they accomplished
and endured in the World War. But we bow before their sacrifice, ourselves
no longer unworthy. As the German divisions started the advance in the
West, today's memorial service has its most fitting beginning, because
in countless soldiers' cemeteries in the West victorious sons stood
for a moment of tribute at the graves of their heroic fathers.
The German people have recovered everything that once
was sacrificed in a foolish delusion. So today we can recall with lightened
hearts the sacrifice of life in the World War. But in the illustrious
events of the present we must not overlook the vast spiritual powers
for which the German people and its soldiers must thank the heroism
of their ancestors.
The soldiers of the World War did not fall in vain.
If at that time the sacrifice was not immediately crowned by success,
their heroic conduct left a heritage that an ever worthy German generation
will prize with deepest emotion and that paralyzes the memories of our
It is perhaps this consciousness of strength that enabled the German
people today to achieve such greatness. The people feel they are carrying
out the will of heroic ancestors.
Beside the dead of the World War lie now the fallen
in continuation of this battle. And again, as then, the sons of our
people lie in distant places, in the sea everywhere as courageous fighters
for their great German home. It is the same German man-be it in World
War work or in the present fight that has been thrust upon us-who risks
and gives his life to win for his people a greater future, a surer peace,
a better organization and human comradeship than that given us by the
dictators of Versailles.
But we think also of the Italian soldiers, who as
allies also must give up their lives ip distant parts of the world.
Their ideals and objectives are the same as ours: The world is not here
for a few people, and an order based eternally on the distinction between
the haves and the have-nots does not exist any more because the have-nots
have determined to lay claim to their portion of God's earth.
The home front, too, in this war must make a greater
sacrifice than formerly. The heroism of the home front contributes its
bit to the most decisive battle in German history. And here it is not
only the man who must show the power of his resistance but the woman,
too. The nation has become a battling unity. And not because they sought
this fight but because it was forced on them.
Behind us lies a Winter of work. What remained to
be improved has been done. The German Army is now the strongest military
instrument in our history. In the months of this Winter our allies bore
the brunt of the whole power of the British attack, but from now on
German forces again will resume their share of this load.
No power and no support coming from any part of the
world can change the outcome of this battle in any respect. England
will fall. The everlasting Providence will not give victory to him who,
merely with the object of ruling through his gold, is willing to spill
the blood of men.
Germany demanded nothing of England and France. All
of the Reich's denunciations, its disarmament and peace suggestions,
were vain. International finance and plutocracy want to fight this war
to the finish. So the end of this war will and must be its destruction.
Then may Providence find a way to lead their people, from whom the chains
will be struck, into a better order!
When England and France declared this war, England
immediately began a fight against civil life. To the blockade of the
World War, that war against women and children, it added this time air
and fire war against peaceful villages and cities. In both of these
modes of war England will be defeated. The air war that Churchill started
will destroy not Germany but England itself. Just so, the blockade will
not strike Germany but its inventor.
While the coming of winter limited battle actions on
land, the fight in the air and on the sea continued. The heroism of
submarine and ship crews goes hand in hand with that of our fliers.
We cannot crown observance of Memorial Day more worthily
than to make a renewed determination to change the battle that our international
enemies started as a war to our destruction into a final German victory.
So we enter the year 1941, cool and determined to end what started
the year before. It is quite immaterial what part of the earth or in
which sea or in what air space our German soldiers fight. They will
know they battle for fate and freedom and the future of our people forever.
But while we end this battle victoriously we thank our heroes of the
past, for we are saving that for which they fell: Germany, our people
and its great German Empire.
 New York Times, March 17, 1941.